Alfred Tobin

Alfred Tobin on Philanthropism, Sports, and New York City

in Opinion

Alfred Tobin is one of New York City’s most dynamic residents, as the longtime insurance broker is known as an adventurous globetrotter, a dedicated philanthropist, and an enthusiastic outdoorsman. As the Executive Vice President at Alliant Insurance Services, Alfred Tobin devotes much of his free time to running, hiking, or skiing, and, on a warm summer day, he is likely to be found taking in a game at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

What gives you the greatest joy in life?

You know, there are so many sources of joy in my life that I’m feeling a bit hard-pressed to pick just one that gives me the greatest joy. My philanthropic work was the first thing that came into my mind when you asked the question, and it’s not like I have any good reason to disagree with that initial instinct. I’m just so grateful that I’ve been able to put myself in a position that allows me to help so many other people, and there is so much joy that comes from doing everything within your power for the sake of your fellow man.

Can you tell more us about your philanthropic work?

I’d absolutely love to, although I should warn you that I could go on about this subject for hours on end if you’re not too careful. It must have been about 10 years ago that I first became seriously involved with philanthropy, and I’m proud that my professional success has allowed me to donate a considerable amount to such an array of wonderful charities.

My philanthropic efforts have focused on two charities in particular: Tuesday’s Children, which helps support communities affected by terrorism through a long-term approach to collective healing, and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, which uses its “aggressively funded research agenda” in support of its goal to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

These charities have accomplished so much, and I’m humbled by the opportunity to play a role in these remarkable accomplishments through my continued support of incredible organizations like Tuesday’s Children and The Michael J. Fox Foundation.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I just love being outside — running, hiking, skiing — anything that helps me experience my surroundings from every possible vantage point. My love of the outdoors is part of the reason I travel so often, and I’m always amazed by the unique natural wonders each part of the world has to offer. I’ve discovered that my ability as a long-distance runner is really advantageous when it comes to exploring new and entirely unfamiliar places, especially in those remote places that might not have a clearly defined path or trail to follow.

With five marathons under your belt — including three New York City Marathons — you’re quite an accomplished marathoner. What is it about running a marathon that appeals to you?

The mere mention of the marathon immediately reminded me of the soreness that comes after a hard-run marathon — even now, I can almost feel the lactic acid building up in my legs — but no amount of post-run fatigue could ever dissuade me from running the marathon, especially the New York City Marathon.

There are quite a few things about the marathon that keep me coming back for more. First off, there’s no way to cut corners when it comes to marathon training — if you don’t bother to create and execute a rigorous training plan, you’re going to pay and pay dearly, on race day. And that brings me to the next thing I love about the marathon, which is the camaraderie that naturally develops between racers, especially those who train together in preparation for race day.

And, although there is so much more I enjoy about the marathon, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the energy and enthusiasm of the spectators that come out to watch the marathon, even when the weather is less than ideal. There’s nothing that compares to the feeling of hitting First Avenue in Manhattan and being greeted by the thunderous encouragement of thousands of people. A massive crowd that stretches for as far as the eye can see, and it’s a boisterous, exultant group made up of native New Yorkers along with people that traveled incredible distances from all over the globe just to watch the marathon.

During each of my three New York City Marathons, once I made it to Central Park and knew I was getting close to the finish, I felt this incredible surge of energy coming from all the spectators lining the streets, and it was that energy that helped carry me over those last few difficult and sometimes punishing miles until I finally reached the finish line. I truly cannot think of anything quite like it.

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